Review of Episode 5×21: “Red and Itchy” (AKA “Animal, Vegetable or Ewwwwwwwwww!”)
Overall: It was the one episode I never saw coming. The one place I was sure they’d never, ever go. The one plotline that I thought would remain a dangly, loose thread, always and forever. But, no – in a burst of great continuity and bold storytelling, The Mentalist not only revisited the topic of LaRoche’s mysterious Tupperware, but did so in a thrilling and ultimately satisfying way. Well done, Show!
Jane: Okay, I take back what I said last time about him being kind of jerkish and making Lisbon come upstairs to get him all the time. Seems he genuinely was working on the Red John case, and was actually very close to a breakthrough. In hindsight, that little book he was reading must have been his list of names. It just looked different, somehow. Then again, the last time they showed Jane’s house and his bedroom, those looked different to me, too. And there’s no reason they would change those sets. So…weird angles, maybe? Unusual lighting? In any case, Jane is on the verge and I can’t really fault him for needing some alone time. The only thing I can fault him for is trying to find his alone time in a bustling government office building. Dude, just take some personal time and go hole up somewhere! A motel room, your house, an abandoned warehouse – almost anywhere would be an improvement.
Anyway, before Jane went into full seclusion, we got to watch him skillfully tap-dance his way around the topic of JJ’s Tupperware. I swear, if BSing is an artform, then Jane is Picasso. It was like seeing him do his psychic act all over again. LaRoche: “Do you think me a monstrosity?” Jane: “No…Not a monstrosity. I think you’re a very complex person…” LOL. Brilliant stuff. I kept waiting for Jane to screw up and say something that didn’t fit, but he pulled off the con brilliantly, letting LaRoche guide the discussion, keeping things just vague enough to be open for interpretation.
Where Jane impressed me the most, though, was his decision not to look in the Tupperware. I mean, he must have been dying to look. We all were. But in a rare move, Jane chose to respect JJ’s privacy and let some secrets remain secret. Part of Jane probably thought that the reality of what was in the box would never live up to what he’d been imagining. And, maybe a part of him was just testing his own willpower. But most of all, I think he does have some weird form of respect for LaRoche, some strange kinship that actually grew stronger during this case, and while Jane was conning and scheming JJ the whole episode long, I think at the end Jane decided to act as a true friend should. One small step for man, one giant leap for Jane. 🙂
Lisbon: “For once, don’t be the voice of reason – be the voice of wrath.” When Jane said that to her, I got shivers. And when she came back with, “Okay, how do we get the b!tch?” I actually hissed the word “yesssssss” under my breath. Right on, Lisbon. Right on. I’m so glad she followed her gut on this one. Jane’s plan wasn’t even as dangerous or half-cocked as usual, so there would have been no real harm done if he was wrong about Brenda. (Just some departmental embarrassment, but what else is new?)
If anyone discovered the secret of the box, I would have expected it to be Jane. If not him, then Van Pelt or Rigsby, who were openly making bets about the box’s contents. But in the end, it was Lisbon who showed that her passion for justice is only part of the reason she decided to become a cop. Apparently, she can’t resist the thrill of a good mystery – and she can’t stand not knowing the solution. It was Lisbon who broke down and scratched the itch for us, tracking down the rapist who had assaulted JJ’s mother and at long last digging up the truth.
I have to wonder, though, if she’s glad she made that trip. Now, Lisbon has to face a big decision about what to do with her newfound knowledge. Jane would tell her to just let it go. I mean, technically, she doesn’t know anything for sure. She just has a very strong hunch. Revealing her suspicions would be like opening up a can of worms and dumping them out to crawl all over the ground. LaRoche would find out the extent of Jane’s betrayal. LaRoche would be disgraced and probably wind up in prison. His mother’s memory would be tarnished. So, Lisbon will likely hold her tongue (LOL) and keep this secret buried, just as she has in the past with Bosco’s crime and the numerous illegal actions Jane has taken over the years. But how much of this stuff she can cover up before she starts feeling like a dirty cop? There’s gotta be a breaking point somewhere, because Lisbon believes in the law. Like, really believes. And I would so hate to see Lisbon hand over her badge because she just didn’t feel like she was honoring it anymore…
Cho/Rigs/Van Pelt: No overt mentions of the Rigspelt reunion – just a subtle shift in Rigsby’s demeanor when he talks about Van Pelt to Cho. No more whining and moping or endlessly obsessing. Rigbsy simply talked about the bet he and VP had going, but there was this lightness in the way he talked. This gentle happiness in the way both of them acted. I’m sure it took Cho all of two seconds to figure out they were back together. Never mind Jane, who knew it was going to happen before Rigsby and VP even did. The bullpen had a nice, relaxed feeling to it. Tension-free. Relieved. Meant-to-be. I was happy to just sit there and soak in the new group dynamic. And for the record, Cho’s wisdom and his ability to read people is starting to rival Jane’s. Cho didn’t hesitate when he said the contents of the box were “animal.” He’s not half as damaged as Jane, but Cho has still seen way more of humanity’s dark side than anyone should…
LaRoche: Speaking of dark sides – whoa! This dude is pitch black. I never thought of him as being particularly similar to Jane…I always thought LaRoche cherished the law above all else. But now that I’ve seen what he’s capable of…the coldness of it, the calculation that the act required…Yikes. JJ’s darker than Jane, if you ask me! When Jane shot Not-Red John in the mall, at least it was a heat-of-the-moment kind of thing. There were tears streaming down Jane’s face – he was pushed over the edge. But JJ’s crime took so much planning…to break into someone’s house, inject the person, and do that in the dead of night. Wow. And how could he possibly have gotten away with it? Given the circumstances, wouldn’t he be like, the one and only suspect? The only thing I can figure, is that someone let it slide. The police didn’t want to catch him, because they didn’t really blame him. The kind of corruption and rule-breaking JJ openly detests is probably the only reason he’s a free man today.
Brenda: Man, was I glad to see this chick go down! I mean, after what she did to Lisbon? After what she did to that kid? Brenda’s fall was long overdue. The fact that it happened on camera was just a bonus. The real joy was seeing her sitting there in the interrogation room with Lisbon and Jane. Seeing her smug expression and then seeing Jane smear it right off her face. His little “baaaa” said it all: You are not nearly as special or as smart as you think you are. You are a common criminal, just like all the rest. Right on, Jane. Right on.
The Box: After all that teasing, I actually thought they might not reveal the contents. After all the hype and the build-up, I actually thought maybe they shouldn’t reveal the contents. They could’ve easily done a cop-out ending and left us guessing for the remainder of our natural lives. But they didn’t – The Mentalist delivered a satisfying pay-off in a creepy and disturbing way, and I give them major points for tying up a mystery that’s been niggling for two long years. In the end, I was only left wondering about one thing: Seriously, why didn’t he just freeze it?
Final Thoughts: Jane is about 24 hours away from figuring out who Red John is. Lisbon just found out an icky secret. Rigsby and Van Pelt are together and it feels so good. What will happen next? Guess we’ll have to tune in to the SEASON FINALE TONIGHT!!!